Aged care courses and employers should incorporate digital competencies into training programs to ensure new workers have the skills they need, an industry forum on technology has heard.

A panel of experts at the ITAC August International Forum on Thursday discussed the importance a digitally enabled aged care workforce.

Aged Care Industry Workforce Council CEO Louise O’Neill said many aged care roles requiring digital skills would emerge as the sector became more digitally enabled.

“We will need to see an uplift in the way that digital skills are taught through Certificate III and Certificate IV qualifications and other qualifications across all sorts of job types,” Ms O’Neill told the ITAC August International Forum.

It may also fall to employers to do more in-house on-the-job training around digital proficiency rather than leaving it all to training organisations, she said.

“As we see younger people moving into aged care over time, that’s going to become less of a problem,” Ms O’Neill said.

Panel members at the ITAC August International Forum

CSIRO Data61 principal research scientist Dr Claire Mason it was important to get training courses right because some organisations lacked the means to train staff.

“I fear some aged care institutions and organisations don’t have the capacity to do the digital literacy uplift themselves. But where they can, they absolutely should and need to and the more they can tailor that to the role, the better,” Dr Mason told the forum.

Younger generations still need to be trained to use technology because “they’re great at social networking” but sometimes they’re not as good using generalised forms of technology, she said.

“Their big advantage though is that they have an empowered and exploratory mindset. They’re more likely to give it a go and try it out and that usually gets you a fair bit of the way.”

Dr Mason said the biggest challenge will be engaging aged care workers who have less confidence using technology.

She suggested implementing a buddy or mentoring system to support workers and match the  approach to different cohorts in the organisation.

Leadership is key

Australian Digital Health Agency director, education and adoption Helen Purdy said the sector needed to identify digital champions.

“We need to embed that capability uplift so that we can foster some of the senior RNs [registered nurses] for example, care coordinators, or even ENs [enrolled nurses] with aspirations to perform at a different level in their role,” Ms Purdy told the forum.

Ms O’Neill said several aged care CEOs engaged data scientists and analysts because they “see the value of them and being able to understand the data trends that are happening in their organisation.”

Providers need to showcase what works well for them and how leaders in their organisations utilise different skillsets, she said.

The ITAC August International Forum took place as a virtual event on 19 August. 

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2 Comments

  1. What sort of digital skills are you referring to?
    For example: are you talking about digital proficiency to manage online patient information? Or are you referring to online interaction with family/guardians? Or is it being proficient in particular software?
    What are the key digital skills that you think workers in this sector require?

  2. Excellent and timely article.
    Digital literacy in aged care must increase significantly for many reasons. Staff in aged care must gain increased comfort and confidence in all elements of the digital landscape. There are significant risks in failing to do this.
    Risks to levels of care being one. Another relates to Cyber Security. Aged Care and the Health Sector in general are major global targets for Cyber Criminals. Unless the sector works with staff to increase their knowledge in this space all stakeholders are at risk of having personal information exposed and care organisations ceasing to function due to being hacked.

    There are multiple elements to digital literacy and the reasons it is required. But the requirement is unescapable.

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